Shah Rukh Khan on kids Aryan and Suhana’s Bollywood aspirations: They shouldn’t start acting in movies yet
It’s 11.20pm when we meet Shah Rukh Khan. And although, it is close to midnight, it is impossible to spot even a trace of tiredness or exhaustion in his indefatigable disposition. “Is it too late?” he asks nonchalantly while looking at his watch. Probably the same passion and diligence has kept him ‘on top’ for over 25 years now. Excerpts from a conversation with the superstar, where he talks about his kids, looking for ‘different’ stories and his new film, Zero.
This is your 26th year in the Hindi film industry. Do you still get butterflies in your stomach before a new film’s release?
Honestly, I don’t work in a film wherein by the end of it, I’d get to know how it has turned out to be. It’s very important [for me]. I meet a lot of my lovely co-actors, who exactly know how their film has turned out to be. Sometimes, I say no to a few films, not because I am bigger or better than that movie but because I don’t feel like taking that up. In fact, sometimes, when my family asks me, ‘why didn’t you do this film?’, I am like, ‘iss film ka toh pata tha na, saari cheezein set thi’.
Even when I did 4-5 love stories, their storyline also wasn’t set. They were different from each other. Apni pichli filmein bhi dekhoon toh unmein bhi koi ‘set’ nahi thi. I didn’t do that initially also. People say that my films don’t work now but my earlier ones were different, too and worked.
Till date, has your larger-than-life image and persona vis-à-vis brand SRK ever been detrimental when it comes to your main job, acting?
I truly believe that the image thing is for other people, not me. That perception or image doesn’t mean anything to me. I don’t even know how that got formed. I have no idea as to why hundreds of people stand outside my house [Mannat in Mumbai] every day? What they are seeing is my films, which is enacted by an actor. He is five feet nine inches, does his job, and goes back home. I can’t take any responsibility for where it has gone beyond. I can’t believe in it as that’d be wrong because it would mean that I have started believing in my own myth, and that would be odd.
So, at the core, you remain the same person?
I do the absolute same thing as an actor even today. Yes, the vanity van has gotten better with ACs and all, but abhi bhi wahi mathamaari hai (laughs). But what I do on sets, even for a few seconds, is very exciting. The result of all those things has made me Shah Rukh but I never work for that image and don’t even know that person. I believe in the myths of Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Aamir or Salman Khan. As for me, I just come in, enjoy my work, and go back home.
At this stage of dizzying glamour and fame, do you look at success and failure differently?
Personally, if you ask me, I am not one for losing. I like to win and I am a winner by nature, ambition and belief. So, I will never run the race to come second. Usain Bolt thoda hi bolta hoga ki aaj second aaunga, maza aayega. You run a race to win. Talks like khel ko khel ki bhavna se khelo, is fine but I play to win but I play honest, clean and differently. I don’t want to keep playing the same game. I want to play in all three formats — T20s, ODIs and test matches, and be able to change things whenever I wish to. I would like to play and win in all three formats and why not? I can be a superhero, a vertically-challenged person, a 26-year-old fan, a gangster, and Devdas too. But you can’t keep playing the same game, and I don’t even know how to play the same game day-in, day-out.
Nowadays, the trade world is abuzz about how Zero’s success is extremely important for you after Fan (2016), Raees (2017), and Jab Harry Met Sejal (2017), since these films didn’t do well.
See, I can’t change that, and if I can’t change something, why should I think about it? If people feel that Zero is very important for me, it’s their feeling. God forbid, if this film doesn’t work, what will happen? Maybe, I won’t get work for six months or 10 months, but if I believe that my craft and art is good, I will continue to get work. Then, I will probably make a comeback which I have been doing for the last 15 years (laughs), or maybe, the comeback won’t happen. The trade world has a point of view about a film’s business, and they are right from their viewpoint. Main dekhta hoon ki is film ki story kya hai? Or is mein nayapan kya hai? That’s more important to me.
Of late, talks have been rife about your kids, Aryan and Suhana’s acting debuts. Karan Johar has said that only he will launch Aryan...
It’s very sweet of them [his industry friends], and they have the right. If Aryan decides to be an actor, it will only be an honour for him to work with directors of that calibre. But I think he wants to be a filmmaker. Aryan is studying to be a filmmaker and a writer, while Suhana wants to be an actor. But even if he wants to be a filmmaker, he needs to study for another five to six years and not just the literal form of studying, but probably be an assistant to Karan after he finishes his film-making course. Aisa nahi hai ki tumhara baap actor hai toh set pe aake assistant director ban jaao. Similarly, Suhana should learn acting for another three to four years if she wants to be an actor. I know many of my industry friends feel my kids should start acting [in films] tomorrow. But it’s my belief that they shouldn’t start acting [in movies] yet.